A good time doesn’t have to cost you anything
Here we are, in our first week of the winter semester. Many of us are waiting, but not for new experiences, challenges or a fresh start at a new semester. We are waiting for our student loans, or “free money” as some people see them.
I’ll admit, I fell into this alluring trap in my first year. Instantly I had several thousand dollars at my disposal. Obviously I paid my fees and made sure my housing was taken care of. But, there it was, an extra $2,000 or so. Do I have anything to show for it now? Maybe a bit of the “freshman fifteen” that seems to have lingered far longer than the money.
I spent it on exactly what you can imagine, food, going out, clothes, all disposable things. I should’ve just tossed that money into the trash. Sure, it was fun, but at what cost? Five per cent interest plus prime? I do not have a shadow of a clue of what that means.
Taking the leftover funding and putting it towards the loan right away is a grand idea, but how often do you think it actually happens? There are always a million reasons not to do something and when friends are knocking at your door, beckoning you to go out. They usually win over the responsible alternative.
After my second year I knew I had to shift my lifestyle and priorities. By holding two jobs, I somehow managed to fund this year and last on my own, without any loans. It’s come at a cost. I’ve lost any semblance of a normal sleep schedule, and by the end of the semester, the few conversations I have are usually sharp and short. But I don’t have the burden of guilt that I’m wasting borrowed money. I only have to live with the manageable amount of anxiety over the sum I already owe. With no way to bail myself out of financial trouble, I’ve had to adjust my spending habits accordingly.
The most significant lesson I’ve learned by ditching the student loans and becoming financially independent is how to find free fun. Having a good time doesn’t have to mean spending all your grocery money. Katy Perry commends kids for buying bottle service with their rent money, but please don’t listen to her. I’ll wager she never has to worry about being late on rent, at any of her houses.
We get caught in a poisonous trap of thinking that fun has to cost money. Or perhaps it’s just that our free time is so scarce and in-between, when the opportunity arises, we are down for whatever, without a second thought. We shouldn’t be looking at fun as a commodity that can be purchased. Often we allow modern day consumerism and spending habits to dictate how we spend our free time. If we only have one evening off, we scramble to find a way to spend it and, coincidentally our money, however little of it we may have.
Everything about being a student is expensive. For as long as you are at TRU, you should take advantage of all the free or discounted things you get just for being a student.
TRU recreation holds free weekly fitness activities as well as an awesome and organized intramurals program that works out to only being a few dollars per week. TRUSU sells blazers tickets for $5.00 a piece – a steal, as the general admission price is $25.00.
If sports aren’t your thing, the Kamloops Art Gallery is free on Thursdays. As for movies, the Cineplex theatre in Aberdeen has its discount night with general admission at $6.50 on Tuesday. The Paramount theatre downtown has $3.50 movies on Tuesday and $5.00 matinees all week.
If you’re after more of a bar atmosphere, many pubs and bars offer free pool on certain nights and weekly drink specials for students.
Beyond that, sometimes all it takes is a quick look at the bulletin boards on campus. TRUSU and other campus clubs are always holding free events, which usually have free food!
The winter season does make spending time outdoors more difficult, but not impossible. There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned snowball fight to make you and your friends feel alive (and perhaps a bit frightened of you). Most trails and parks like Kenna Cartwright and Riverside are open, as long as you’re willing to trek through some snow. Kamloops boasts several outdoor skating rinks that are obviously the most Canadian way to spend time outdoors (a full list can be found on the Tourism Kamloops website).
Creativity and thinking beyond the norm are both vital in being able to manage your finances and fulfill your social needs. Just because every movie about college features drinking to excess, going out to eat and living like the bill will never come, it doesn’t mean we have to live that way.
Society, for some reason, has given students a free pass to be financially irresponsible for the sole reason that “these are the best times of your life,” “you’re only young once” (I refuse to use the acronym), and my favourite, “that’s just what college kids do!”
All of those excuses are belittling our intelligence and thus postponing our maturity and financial independence. Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t fall into the trap of blowing funds like you live in a never-ending forest of money trees. Take control of your habits now. Absolutely take advantage of all the perks, freebies and discounts you get as a student, because they exist and we might as well use them.
But, I implore everyone to examine your spending habits. I mean, take a good look at them. The moment we realize that we are capable of creating our own experiences and making our own fun, we will be free to step outside the prescribed boundaries of the price of leisure today.
Experiences and true connections cannot be manufactured, bought or sold. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line we were fooled into thinking they can be.